11 reasons for the Price difference in Bellota hams

We can find Iberian jamón de bellota for less than €40/kg and for more than €400/kg. It’s a huge difference which is not justified solely by the quality of the final product, but a combination of different factors.

1. Breed

Better quality Pata Negra hams come from 100% Iberian pigs, which cost to raise is significantly higher than cross-breeds. They fatten a lot slower, they produce smaller hams and the litters are smaller in number.

2. Food on the farm

Iberian pigs on a farm
Iberian pigs on a farm, a few days before going to the pasture to start the montanera period (free-range grazing)

From weaning until it is driven to the mountain, the animal spends a few months on a farm, where it is fed on a diet of fodder. The pig can’t go from drinking the milk of its mother one day to eating acorns the next; it needs time to adapt. One example is what we do with human babies. Once they stop weaning we slowly begin to introduce baby food (cereals and fruit), alternating them with a bottle. This goes on for several weeks until the baby is ready to try other foods such as fish and meat, and later on dried fruits and nuts, etc.

Returning to animal food, there are many prices that are dependent on the quality of the raw material and the combination of cereals and other nutrients in the formula.

3. Age and weight on entering the montanera phase

The law sets minimum conditions for the age and weight to be able to label a ham “de bellota”:

  • The weight on beginning the montanera phase should be between 92 and 115 kg.
  • During the montanera phase they should be fattened at least 46 kg on a diet of acorns and grass.
  • The minimum age at slaughter is 14 months.
  • The minimum individual carcass weight (after removal of the skin, head and viscera) is 115 kg, except for 100% Iberian animals, in which case the minimum is 108 kg.

Thus, a producer who meets the minimum legal requirements is able to sell hams with a lower production cost than those who are significantly above the threshold, at the expense of quality, of course.

4. Duration of the montanera period

The Royal Decree 4/2014 rules that the pig must spend a minimum of 2 months in the pasture, but there are farmers who extend this by 1 or 2 months, or more. In some cases pigs are given 2 montanera periods. That is, when acorn season is over, they are brought back to the farm until the next season, when they will eat more acorns again.

The longer the montanera period is, the more acorns are eaten and the more exercise undertaken, and so the Pata Negra will be of a higher quality. But this comes with a cost: the shepherds and vets must work more, and the number of casualties among the pigs rises as a result of illness, theft or attacks from other wildlife that inhabit the mountain. Furthermore, the jamón will need more months of maturation, because the quality of the fat would be higher and so the oxidation would be slower.

5. Quality of the montanera

Iberian pigs eating acorns in the pasture
Iberian pigs eating acorns in the pasture

It’s not the fair to put 50 pigs in a pasture of 500 hectares, the same as you would put 100 in the same amount of space. They’d get half the amount of acorns.

Naturally the law limits the density of animals per square metre, and the density of oaks. Therefore manufacturers need to hire an inspection company to certify that their pastures are compliant. But even within the legal limits there are some producers who are closer to the minimum than others.

The quality and quantity of acorns is not the same at all times nor in all pastures. Pigs are very selective and will find the best acorns first, the biggest and sweetest, which are the major contributors to the overall quality of the hams and sausages.

6. Organic vs. Conventional

Undoubtedly one of the aspects that most influences the final price is the condition of organic ham. The limitation in pharmacological treatments raises the mortality of pigs, the absence of preservatives makes many hams spoil before being sold and the cost of the feed is much higher. We must also add the costs of certification and control of the authorities.

Production of organic Iberico ham in Spain is negligible; we only have half a dozen small producers.

7. Maturation period

Hams curing in the cellar
Hams curing in the cellar

A Jamón de bellota loses between 8% and 10% of its weight each year that it’s hanging in the cellar (between 7% and 9% in the shoulders). Basically what you lose is water. Thus, if the sale comes within 2 years instead of 3, we can reduce its price by about 10% while maintaining the same margin.

Not surprisingly the quality is not the same. One extra year of maturation brings new aromas, a more intense flavour and easier cutting.

8. Salt

Excess salt, besides being harmful to health also hides a lot of the flavours of ham. Consumers tend to prefer sweeter and softer Iberian hams, especially in recent times.

But what happens if we fall short of salt? Well, two things can happen:

  1. The meat contaminates and rots (salt is the main preservative), or
  2. The muscle tissue loses consistency and flavour. It’s what people in the business call jamón chicloso (gummy ham).

Thus, those manufacturers who strive to minimize the concentration of salt to get better tasting hams know they will have to throw out some pieces. Consequently, they’ll have to sell the others at a higher price to compensate for these losses.

9. Brand

Prestige, exclusivity and advertising campaigns have a direct effect on the selling price.

In 2006 Cárnicas Maldonado launched a special series of €1500 hams called Alba Quercus (renamed Albarragena). Others followed such as Joselito with his Vintage series at €2000 and Jamones Premium by Arturo Sánchez at €4.000… Logically the series don’t last very long; the hams are really good but the price per kg hardly justifies the final quality. In fact, they are often instruments for marketing campaigns.

On the other hand, manufacturers with strong brands know that customers are willing to pay a little more for the security that comes with their name and reputation.

10. Commerce

A ham of the same brand can be found at very different prices between one store and another. Not everyone works with the same margins. It’s also possible to lower the price of the ham but end up paying for the service: high delivery costs, very restrictive return policy, poor customer service…

The country where the trade is largely determines the final price. Some manufacturers require sellers to buy the product to the official importer only, and therefore the prices are usually much higher than in its place of origin or in a more competitive environment.

11. Time of year in which the purchase is made

The price of ham is usually quite stable throughout the year, although there may be periods of shortages that drive up the price. It happens, for example, when a manufacturer has exhausted the pieces of a campaign and the next lot are still a little tender.

Donation to Doctors Without Borders for battling COVID-19

On May 6th of this year, we launched a campaign to raise money for the fight against COVID-19. Thanks to the response of our customers, we were finally able to transfer the collected funds to Doctors Without Borders in the amount of €2,040.20.

Thanks to Alicia, Damián, Maria Eugenia, and all those who contributed their part so that the campaign would reach more people.

Thanks to Laura and Oscar, for always having the deboned and sliced hams ready on time, even on the busiest of workdays.

Thanks to Jaime, Chema, Jose, and the rest of the warehouse team, for getting the packages out on time throughout all these weeks.

Thanks to Edelmiro, Rocio, Javier and their colleagues in the transport companies, especially the drivers and delivery people, for working under the most complicated conditions while the majority of us were sheltered in our homes.

And above all, thanks to all our customers. Thank you for knowing how to enjoy life with the best ham, and for your solidarity.

Thanks to you.

 

Why doesn’t a good Pata Negra ham taste salty?

Pata negra ham slices on plateIf you are asked which is saltier, a slice of Iberian jamón de bellota or a crisp? The answer will almost always be the crisp. Moreover, if I ask you to first try a sample of each, the answer wouldn’t change.

The reality is very different: a bag of crisps typically contains 1.5g of salt per 100g of potatoes, while Pata Negra ham contains between 3 to 4.5g per 100g. Even the Serrano ham, which usually doesn’t even reach 5% salt content, seems significantly saltier than Bellota ham despite it having only slightly more salt.

Another example: seawater has a salinity of about 3.5%, but it seems much saltier than jamón.

What masks the salt?

The marbling fat and protein deserve credit in this case. As everyone knows, Iberian ham has a lot of fat marbling, which means the white streaks in the slice. If it’s also Bellota, the fat will melt in the mouth and inundate our taste buds. Thus, our taste buds will be concentrated on the fat and stop being so sensitive to the salt (the sodium of the salt, to be exact).

On the other hand, during the 3 or 4-year maturation period of a good Pata Negra, the salt combines with meat protein, reducing its impact on the taste buds.

Whereas Jamón de bellota seems sweet, it actually doesn’t have much less salt than Serrano ham. You should always follow the recommendations of experts not to consume cured ham more than 2 or 3 times a week, the equivalent to between 100 and 150g, and thus will not reach 15% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) by WHO (World Health Organisation). We can raise this amount if we moderate our consumption of salt in other foods such as salads and soups, for example. Worth the sacrifice, right?

We ship spanish ham (“Jamón”) to Hong Kong

UPDATE: Since June 23rd, 2020 we no longer ship to Hong Kong due to a change in customs regulation.

 

We are extremely happy to announce that starting today we now ship to Hong Kong! This includes all of our products:

Spanish ham:
https://www.ibergour.com/en/productos/sel/charcuteria/cat/tipoprod/

Ham stands and ham-carving knives:
https://www.ibergour.com/en/productos/sel/accesorio/cat/tipoprod/

We have recently partnered with DHL to make sure that the best spanish Jamon will fly to HK in good hands, get through customs with no hassles whatsoever, and be delivered at your door ASAP.

It sure has been a long wait, but we are confident that tasting the best spanish Jamón in Hong Kong at regular spanish prices will completely make up for it.

To fulfill your order, just proceed as you would for any online order. Just make sure you choose “Hong Kong” as your country destination when typing in your shipping address, and you will be good to go. The full payment will be completed in our site, no customs fees nor any extra expense will be needed for you to enjoy your Jamón.

Also, please note that the prices displayed on our site include local taxes (VAT) that do not apply for orders bound for HK. These will be removed from the total price of your order once you enter your Hong Kong invoicing data, which will be automatically requested during checkout.

Best regards,
Miquel Nieto, founder

Joselito Ham turns 150 years old

The most famous and recognized worldwide ham producer from Guijuelo just celebrated its 150th anniversary. Six generations have now dedicated themselves to ham processing, even though it didn’t bear the name Joselito for the first 100 years, when the current director’s grandfather realized its growing popularity.

Joselito Ham has its own herd of almost 35,000 pata negra pigs, with a genetic selection that allows the recognition of a cut not yet labeled. Another characteristic is that the company doesn’t use additives, except salt. No artificial colors, preservatives or lactose – just acorn-fed ham and salt.

The company that José Gómez currently runs has opted for internalization, research and development and positioning as luxury items. A success that its competitors have lost no time in trying to duplicate.

To celebrate it, 18 master cutters sliced several Vintage 2011 cuts (cured for more than 7 years) in an event that took place in Madrid’s Teatro Real on October 2, 2018.

It was one of the hams that we first sold at IberGour. We incorporated it into our catalogue at the end of 2006, and we can confidently say that it is a brand that creates loyal customers. In spite of some specific disappointments, the more than 300 opinions that have been sent to us and we have published prove our customers’ love for the jewel of Guijuelo.

We hope to keep processing this exquisite, aromatic ham for another 150 years at least, and that IberGour continues selling it online 😉

#JamonByTheFace Dakar Challenge

#JamonByTheFace Dakar Challenge: today along the day we will be tweeting pictures of #Dakar2018 competitors touching their faces. For every picture tweet, tomorrow we will draw a jamon among its retweets. To maximize your odds of winning a jamon for FREE, press this button:  and retweet as many pictures as you wish as we publish them.

Even better: if you find the picture of a competitor from whom we have not published a picture yet, tweet it with a mention to @ibergour and you will get a free jamon directly, NO DRAWS! Just remember that:
  • it must be a competitor from whom we have not published a picture yet
  • they must appear touching their face
  • it must be verifiable that the picture was taken today
  • your tweet must mention @ibergour

Example:

Peterhansel se toca la cara

Rules:

  1. You can earn at most one jamon, either because you were the first one to tweet a valid picture or because you won a draw.
  2. You are not required to be the author of the picture. It can be someone else’s picture, a video frame, whatever.
  3. We will accept tweets/retweets until 24:00 today, Madrid time (GMT+1).
  4. There must be at least 10 retweets on the same picture for there to be a jamon draw for that picture.
  5. If you live in the EU*, we will ship your jamon for free. If you want it delivered somewhere else, the jamon is yours but you shall take care of shipping yourself (making arrangements for shipping, fulfilling taxes, shipping expenses).
    * We do not ship to the Canary Islands, Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar, Ceuta, Melilla, Azores, Madeira, British Crown Dependencies or the Channel Islands in general.

Results

Yesterday we found all these pictures of Dakar 2018 competitors touching their faces:

This tweet had 12 RTs, and the jamon goes to: @Superxeta

This tweet had 12 RTs, and the jamon goes to: @karlo2011

Other competitor pictures that did not make it to the minimum number of RTs:

The “Jamón de Huelva” Designation of Origin changes its name to “Jabugo”

Jamon de Huelva is renamed as Jamon de JabugoAfter several years of litigation, the Supreme Court of Madrid has overturned the decision of the Ministry of Agriculture which originally denied the name change. From now on, the “Jamón de Huelva” Protected Designation of Origin will be renamed “Jabugo”.

So far, only hams produced in Jabugo, such as Cinco Jotas, could carry this mark on its label. This left out a lot of producers in the same area (Sierra de Aracena), which could not benefit from the power of this brand although they still offered high quality Pata Negra ham with similar characteristics.

In favour of this change were the city of Jabugo itself, the Regulatory Council of the D.O and many residents and businesses within the swine industry. The main opposition was the Asociación Auténtico Jabugo (Jabugo Authentic Association) and two major manufacturers: Sánchez Romero Carvajal (Osborne Group), which is the manufacturer of Cinco Jotas, and Consorcio de Jabugo (Agrolimen Group).

From a consumer’s point of view, the change appears positive because it simplifies the product. Enough people have difficulty keeping up with the differences of race, food and the zone of production of pigs, and above all also need to know that Jamón de Jabugo is Jamón de Huelva, but that Jamón de Huelva can’t be considered as “de Jabugo”.

As for quality, the Regulatory Council will now have to ensure a much more valuable mark than previously, and should therefore put extra controls and filters in place in order to prevent a potentially huge disaster.

 

When will the change in D.O. come into effect?

It came into force last March. On August 1 2015 has been published in the Official Gazette of the Ministry published a resolution declaring it accepts the decision and the name change will come into effect, and on March 7 2017 the new name was entered in the Community Register of PDOs and PGIs.